Anybody can publish on a blog. But to do content marketing well, there’s a barrier to entry most aren’t willing to jump over.
These costs aren’t overly high or excessive. But they are costs. In today’s video, we talk about how to think about price and what to expect for many different common content types.
Hey everybody, I’m Ross Hudgens, founder of Siege Media, and today I want to give you some detail on how much content marketing should and can cost.
So a lot of clients come to us and ask, “Hey Ross, how much is content marketing? I want to do content marketing. I don’t necessarily know how much it costs, maybe I’ve tried it a little, it hasn’t worked, so how much do you guys cost?”
And my response generally is we have certain frameworks for our cost, but additionally we’re also trying to communicate the difference between a good content marketing campaign and a content marketing campaign that is done for the sake of it and does not really ever result in much outcomes other than blog posts published at the end of the day.
It’s those bad businesses that do content marketing that’s often communicated as part of a package, such as “Hey, we’ll do four posts a month for you for $200 per post.”
These kinds of efforts often result in nothing because they’re not deliberate or strategic, as opposed to people that do content marketing well think of it as every post is its own effort, its own idea. It can be customized around it.
Yes, there can be commonalities and averages, how long things take, but generally, that’s on the long side not the short side.
So in this video, I want to give you some context for how much good work should cost in order to get the results from content marketing to stand out in today’s landscape.
And the first piece of that is actually just making sure that you have the framework to create and promote content.
Do You Have the Right Framework to Promote Content?
What I mean by that is design. Some people come to us and they have this, unfortunately, horrendous-looking website or sometimes only a horrendous-looking blog. They haven’t really realized that to have success from a content marketing perspective, you need a beautiful framework around the content, not just beautiful one-off content that you create.
Because of this, we often recommend that we create a custom blog design for them or go off and get that themselves in order to really get results from that effort moving forward.
And what that can cost from my experience is on the bottom range is in the $5k to $6k area to do that well. You can get it for less, you can get it a lot worse for less, and then you can get as high as $20k+ for a basic website that’s mostly content.
It’s highly suggested you invest in having that done really well if you really want to stand out and have every effort past that get the results you want.
So if you’re not ready to invest that sum cost in the design of your website, you should probably stop and make sure you have the budget and the money to do that and then take the next step towards content creation.
And with that next step, with content creation, is the single element that you would then put around your great design. The first piece is a basic blog post.
What Should a Blog Post Cost?
What should a basic blog post cost? To me, done well, is in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. There’s multiple reasons for that.
First, if you think about a well-done blog post that you’ve seen, there’s a ideation period that happens before it. They’ve written down a ton of ideas, they’ve dropped some, they’ve done an investigation to see if other people have published things like this that got success.
Maybe they asked some people. Maybe they bounced it off their manager. Additionally, once they came up with that, they did eight hours of research, they looked up different data points, they curated it, they published it, and then they went to a designer and said, “Hey, could I get some custom elements in each of these places?”
Then you can compare something like that to the basic $150 blog posts that you see. Those are always normally 400 to 600 words of content and almost always zero hours of research.
They pulled the first stock photo that’s free from whatever website they use. There’s not much context or unique value being added as compared to any other website on the internet. And yeah, maybe that other post has 600 words, but you can see the difference in research, in ideation, and in design—and that often makes that 600 words worthy of that $1,000 to $2,000 framework when creating content.
What Should Infographic Research + Design Cost?
The next element that you might want to create is an infographic. Same kind of idea—research, content creation—but this time you’re using even more design time in order to create that.
A good designer is not cheap. So in that range you can probably get $2,000 to $3,000 for a well-done infographic.
What Should an Animated Infographic Research + Design Cost?
And then when you get to animation, maybe you want to animate an infographic—same thing, well-done ideation, in-depth research—now you’re handing it to an animator which is generally a more experienced designer and that depth it takes even more time.
A normal infographic will take us around four days, while an animated one might take us two weeks. So you can see that difference in time creates a cost difference, which brings that to around $6,000 for an infographic by itself.
What Should Videos Cost?
Videos are similar, and to do high-quality videos well, I’d say around $3,000 per minute is a general framework for a basic-ish video.
And obviously the more complex that shoot gets, the more expensive it can become on a per video basis. So maybe a two-minute video can be in the $6,000 range and be done really well, depending on what kind of efficiencies you bring and if you do it over and over again, it can be easier.
For example, we’re doing these video series, it’s not as hard to do it the second time because we were doing these over and over again, but if you’re doing a one-off shoot that’s completely unique and on its own standing, it’s probably going to be in the $5,000, $6,000 range to just do that video well in terms of casting, videography, script, and all of those things that you need to consider.
What Should Content With Original Photography Cost?
Other content types to consider are photography posts as well, that can also add some complexity. Do you want to do original photography in addition to the blog post that I kind detailed on the first point?
That might go in a $2,000 or $3,000 range rather than $1,000 to $2,000 post for a high-quality post because you’re having to do that exclusive photoshoot that’s unique to it. This requires a photo studio, shoot prep, and a talented photographer to make it stand out.
What Do Interactives Cost?
Finally, interactives are definitely a differentiated factor, and they take even more time to be done really well. You can use some interactive frameworks that developers can leverage, but as most know, developers are highly regarded and therefore hard to get a hold of. Because of that, supply and demand economic reality it makes development work more expensive.
But that also means that you stand out if you’re willing to invest in that time, a talented, experienced developer and also the right idea that stands out from that capacity. After the content creation side is the content distribution side.
What Does Distribution Cost?
So what does distribution cost? I think to do it well, there’s a functional cost in around like, a $70 to $85 an hour kind of range.
So that’s kind of a framework of what we charge but I think, in some ways, that’s the charge for anyone to do it well. So obviously I’m kind of biased because I think we have a good process and we’ve been doing this for 5+ years.
But if you do this in-house, you’re going to have someone promoting that, but you also need a strategic overview of someone to recommend how to do that best, how to do it in the highest leverage way. Therefore to get the same results as that other company or an agency like us, I think you’d probably need to double those costs to get the same results.
Obviously I might be a little biased in thinking that, but I think the general framework is to distribute something, you know, $75-ish to $85 an hour range for a good talented content marketing specialist with digital experience, with writing experience, with outreach experience.
To add to that, for most posts that we recommend around 16 hours of promotion, depending on the site, depending on the effort you put in, you might want to put in more. Sometimes you might want to put in less.
But I think that general framework for a really well-done post in that $3,000 to $5,000 range is a good framework. So that generally means around $1,250 to $1,500 per post to distribute that content just from the labor perspective of doing the cold outreach, doing additional distribution on Reddit, and through social communities and things like that.
How Much Does Paid Distribution Cost?
So beyond the manual labor, there’s also distribution in terms of potential paid distribution.
Obviously there’s Facebook Advertising that you can do, you can advertise on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Outbrain, all these vehicles have their own methodology for distributing that content. As of today, Facebook is by far the best value for the cost in my opinion, for most verticals.
Your vertical might make sense for Pinterest and other places like that. But in general, you might want to spend around $10 to potentially $100 per post on that distribution activity for a campaign that isn’t direct-response oriented.
How Much Does a Campaign Cost?
And you can tell in essence bringing this all together the distribution, the creation, the sum cost, a good content marketing campaign in my opinion, for a medium-sized business ($2MM+ annual revenues), should be in the $10 to $15k a month range to be done even solidly.
Then when you get into more complex, more high competition verticals where you’re going against big players with big budgets, I think that can get into the $30,000 to $50,000 to $60,000 a month range for a well-done content marketing campaign that’s pulling from so many different angles of video, of animation, of original photography, that’s what it really takes to compete and yes, content marketing done well is not cheap.
But I think dollar-wise it’s definitely still there from every single study you can read. So that said, content marketing done well is kind of…it does take a stepping point, a willingness to do it and spend some time investing in it to get that return from search and all those other great things, social sharing from that effort.
But at the end of the day, content marketing is not expensive. Bad content marketing is expensive, but you do it well it’ll be, in my opinion, the best investment you can make.
Why is Spending This Worth it?
After reading these numbers, you might be wondering “why should I spend this?”. The numbers might sound expensive to some on the surface, but they aren’t if you are properly allocating against a strategy. When talking with clients, we use our website traffic framework to validate the cost.
The premise of this is to look at the traffic cost of the content ranking using Ahrefs/SEMRush. If I see topic X is worth $20,000/mo if we can rank well, it’s easy justification to create a $3,000 blog post.
Similarly, if we see the total landscape is worth $200,000 more in monthly traffic, and the link gap is 75, which we know is an important ranking factor… it’s again very easy math if we can generate those 75 links with content for significantly less than that number.
Put them together and the ROI skyrockets — generate links and ranking at the same time. Misapplied, though, it’s possible that content spend like the above can definitely result in wasted money. This general thought process and cost, though, is easy to justify when placed against possible search and SEO ROI.